By Gbenga Osinaike
Three things among other things attract people to Church: music, message and miracle. There are other extraneous factors that bring people to church. This could range from opportunities available in the church, the proximity of the church to one’s abode and the fact that the church is a family church and has thus become a tradition to worship there
Beyond these factors people go to church because they really want to hear God speak to their lives and because they want to worship God and unburden themselves to Him. That is why it is important that a minister who mounts the pulpit to speak to the congregation bears in mind that he has a date with the destiny of people. His message will either make or mar the people. Every opportunity to share the word is an opportunity to rescue people from the pit of hell through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, many of our pulpits are weak and devoid of the grace that will make people run to God and abandon themselves to Him. Apart from the fact that that some dole poison to the congregation in the name of ministering to them, we have turned the church to an entertainment ground where what we have on display is mere show and an attempt to satisfy the ego of the people we preach to.
The pastor mounts the pulpit and all he does is to motivate the people. At the end of the message if you ask members who listened to him, they would tell you, “the man preached so well, I enjoyed the message” if you press on and ask further, “so what did he preach,” the answer will just be like the first, “I say the man preached well. It was a great message”
What is great about a message that has no substance? If the message and the music we hear in our churches are just to make us feel good and not make us have a dose of heaven, then we have only been entertained. There is so much entertainment in church today that we go clapping at the end of every delivery.
It is normal to applaud a person after a good delivery but the question is: What has that message done to you? Has it touched something in your heart? Clapping is a way of showing our appreciation. It is good to encourage those who minister to us with a clap offering. There is however a need for the person doing the ministration to realize that he is not on the pulpit to earn a clap offering from the people but to allow God to touch the people through him.
Many of the activities we carry out on our pulpits are more of trying to boost our own ego and the ego of the people we are trying to reach and not to bless them. Our preparation is geared towards impressing the people. We prepare our messages not with God in our thought but with the people in our thought.
We fail to appreciate that it is God who knows how to meet the needs of the people. If God breathes on us we will preach the right message. It is better we stay with God and ask Him to reach the people through us than look at the people and think of ways we can reach them with our human sense and psychology.
In many instances, we come to fellowship with a heart that is full of ourselves and our ambitions. We come to God always thinking about our needs and not about the God we have come to. We come to him during congregational worship with a heart that is full of pride and an obvious attempt to impress man. Beyond looking good a lot of us come to church to show off our wealth and our attire. This may sound ridiculous. But it is the truth. There are people who will rather not go to church than wear a cloth that is not in vogue or a cloth they think is below their status.
Many of us have devised our own ways of reaching God and have not allowed God to come and inhabit the praises we offer even when the Bible makes it clear that God inhabits the praise of His people. In what context will God inhabit the praise of his people? It is in the context of worship that is devoid of flesh and an attempt to nourish human ego.
One of the annoying trends in the church today is that we have turned music to a form of idol in that we think without all the musical gadgets present in worship service, we cannot touch heaven. In the 70s and 80s when Nigeria experienced genuine revival did churches have musical instruments? No. Did God affect and change lives? Yes. The truth is that God did wonders and saved lives. I experienced this kind of service. All we had then were our hands and we really enjoyed the presence of God.
But today, take away the musical gadgets and the church will be empty. What was the musical device that Paul and Silas used in the prison yard to bring down the power of God? The Bible records that they prayed and sang hymns. They sang hymns and the power of God came down mightily and their chains were broken.
It is not the musical tools that make the worship; it is the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people. If we are not tuned to God in sincere worship, we can be certain that we will just be making noise in the name of worshipping our maker. There is difference between making a God inspired noise and noise that has no meaning. It can be irritating when musical devices are used to the detriment of the lyrics of a song during worship. And you see people jumping up and sweating as if that is the credential for service before God.
There is no doubt that our worship could lead to jumping, dancing and sweating. But we must have this understanding that our worship is not about ourselves but about God. It is good to jump and dance. But who is behind the jumping and the dancing? Is it something that comes from within us in obvious appreciation of God or something that is propelled by a desire to show off and a response to the drumbeat? If you were the only person in your room worshipping God will you dance? Some will dance but many people dance only in church to get attention.
There is nothing wrong with dancing to show our appreciation to God. But the kind of dance in church today is between heaven and hell. We could be expressive with our praises but when praising God is just to show off our backsides and display to people around then there is something wrong. David danced the way he did not because he was trying to impress some people or get attention for himself but because he was literally lost in worship.
It is good to ask ourselves whether we are doing fellowship or showmanship. The idea of going to hire those who play instruments for us who are not members of our church is an indirect way of saying without the instruments God will not bless us. The sad aspect is that many churches now employ just anybody to play these instruments and mount their altars.
The problem is not in bringing those people to our congregation or altars, it is with the morality of the act. There are churches where those manning the instruments go behind the church to smoke and drink and come to play the instrument to get their pay. If there are no people who can handle the instruments in our congregation why acquire them? Why is it that we don’t want to make do with what we have until the Lord blesses us with the instruments or with those who can play them? Why must acquiring instrument be the first concern of a church?
Jesus says where two or three people are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst. He did not say where people are gathered with musical instruments. Thank God for our hands and for our voice. The deaf and dumb even praise God; so why do we want to kill ourselves over musical instruments as if the instruments carry God’s power.
There is no doubt that God will revive His church. But it is important that we keep an open heart and allow God to glorify Himself in our lives. It is certainly good to worship God in whatever condition and state we find ourselves. What should consume our attention are not the people around us but the God we are offering our worship.